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ESL Teacher Blog
The teacher's point of view: thoughts, observations and ideas about ESL teaching.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

ESL Teacher Blog: Spring Is in the Air and in the Classroom Too

Seasonal changes are hard to ignore even if following a strict curriculum. And they mustn’t be because they spark up the interest, make learning memorable and bring spontaneity as a welcome break from the classroom routines. Be it the first snow, thunderstorm or field of dandelions observable from the classroom window, students will always appreciate the time dedicated to express the changes they see and experience in a foreign language.

How do we know that the spring has arrived? Brainstorm the answers and then expand. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach and review vocabulary that otherwise will need picture dictionaries or visuals. An approximate list is below. What are the signs of spring in your students’ home countries?

Top ten signs of spring:

1. Crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils have pushed through the ground.
2. Garden centers are open.
3. Pussy willows are sold in flower shops.
4. Trees are starting to bud.
5. Restaurant and cafe patios are teeming with customers.
6. Kids are swarming the playgrounds.
7. During the weekend walk, everyone seems to bike, rollerblade or ride a scooter. 
8. Women wear open-toe sandals or flip-floes showing off their pedicure.
9. House-for-sale signs are popping up on every street.
10. People are driving their convertibles with an open roof. Don’t they mind the pollution?
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 10:27 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment

Monday, April 13, 2009

ESL Teacher Blog: Teaching Four Food Groups - Grains

When it comes to identifying four food groups, students readily give examples of fruit and vegetables, meat and alternatives, and milk and alternatives. Ask them to give examples of grain products...and they’ll come up with the only grain - rice (well, maybe oats too). Is this a lack of vocabulary, or being unfamiliar with any other types of grain? It’s probably both, and therefore is worth some classroom time dedicated to the topic.
It’s difficult to talk about grains without looking at them. A matching game consisting of grain samples (in small plastic bags) and a set of flash cards with grain names can help to turn something quite abstract for the students into something more visual and practical. While matching the grains to their names, students have time to touch the grain, explore its color and shape, and share the ways to cook it. Some will be motivated to search more about a particular type, and even, hopefully, give it a try.
This activity will also help students to understand Canada’s Food Guide that recommends certain amounts of daily grain product intake based on age and gender. Send your students to a natural food store and ask them to read the labels. How many grains can they identify now?
Based on your class level (and probably their curiosity too) 7-8 types of grain make a good start to introduce additional types. Your matching game can include (but isn’t limited to): buckwheat, barley, couscous (students’ favorite due to its easy cooking method), semolina, quinoa, bulgur, millet, wild and/or brown rice.
Talk about whole and refined grains, and grain products (bread, pasta, cereals) as vocabulary extension.
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 12:57 PM   1 Comments  Add Comment


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